DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Voyager Series, or anybody who plays in it, that right belongs to Paramount. Nor will I make any money by writing this, or is any copyright infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following technobabble has no foundation whatsoever. However I have read about a discussion of a theory that time could shift in phases. That there was something that could bend time around on itself. *shrugs* who knows.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Blue Sylph
"How far in she is?"
"Just a few steps, Sir," a rookie Itasch officer answered to his superior.
"Oxygen levels normal, Compose-tube material 96% but within acceptable paramaters, two tiny fractures that were found have been sealed, and appear to be holding. Primary SesOps controller functioning normally, Secondary SesOps controller, also functioning normally. Drainage levels about 50% and holding."
The big green and yellow skinned male that was obviously the leader frowned slightly, although it was hard to notice seeing as he had no eyebrows, and actually had no bodyhair anywhere. The golden material covering most of his chest as a sort of harness, blinked as he moved from one foot onto the other unable to relieve the nervosity he felt, in any other way.
"Increase drainage levels to 54% and note any changes in the atmosphere as a result of the extra drainage," he ordered his voice soft, yet firm enough to force others to respect him as their superior.
"Na'va'ta'narra reporting. Sir, there seems to be a light ahead, that interferes with the phase gasses in this section, and it's heading my way slowly, standing by for instructions."
"Hold position and report any changes, prepare to return if necessary, we don't want too lose you."
"Sir, the drainage is sucking away too much phase gasses, SesOps reported a fatal error if we keep the draining up, 4.35 minutes from now," the young officer reported his hands flying over the small black and red console in front of him.
"Correct the problem and try a different approach, we need to be able to get Na'va through this layer, but too much phasing gasses can be fatal."
"Yes Sir. Problem corrected, recalibrating current data. Sir, the light appears to be a object consisting out of a deuterium composite alloy, it seems to be some kind of magnet that draws in the phase gasses and it's slowly creating a small vortex as a result."
"Can you take it out with SesOps?"
"Negative Sir, current data is insufficient to guarantee the Compose-tube will not be damaged in the attempt, nor can we guarantee if Sersia Na'va'ta'narra will be harmed or not."
The leader cursed in his native language. This was the third attempt this week, and it was frustrating to know they were so close to penetrating the Ziano planet's atmosphere, so close he could almost taste the uncorrupted air and feel the technology that would save his entire race.
"Hail Sersia Na'va'ta'narra."
"Yes Sir. Link established, although connection might fail soon, the vortex is interfering with SesOps's controllers."
"Na'va, we have two options. You can either attempt to take out the small lighted sphere, or you can withdraw, and will have to try again later this week."
"Acknowledged Sir, I will try to take out the sphere, and flee before it releases too much of it's gasses, SesOps reports that if I time it correctly I can pass through without any harm being done, this might be the break we were waiting for, Sir."
"Confirmed, please be careful Sersia."
"I will try, Yarmi."
The leader shook his head at that name. Not many people knew it and, even fewer people were allowed to adress him with his given name. Sersia Na'va'ta'narra was one such person, only because they had grown up together on their world that was slowly being destroyed. And because they had both followed the same course, and both had that passion to solve the problem that was threatening their Home-planet, and over time they eventually met up again to work on this project.
In an other life-time they would have been lovers perhaps, but not in this one. There was no room for pleasantries when the knowledge that thousands of people died on their Home-planet every day, was ghosting through their heads.
As Yarmi was pondering about the fate that had brought him and Sersia together once again, after a period of 8 years, he failed to notice a yellow light on his console flashing angrily. The young Itasch rookie that sat a few feet away was focusing on the stream of data he was receiving continously from the SesOps Controllers. He also failed to notice the yellow light, as well as the sudden increase in drainage levels that was displayed on one of the consoles.
"Sir, what's happening over there, I can't breathe and the vortex is increasing in speed rapidly, turn off the drainage now," Na'va'ta'narra's voice came over the com-unit, appearing slightly out of breath. She realised that she had made her request sound more like a order, but she was really concerned about what was going on.
Yarmi's eyes widened suddenly as he let his hands slide over the consoles in front of him furiously, at the same time barking orders at the Itasch rookie officer occupying the secondary station. "I don't care how you do it, but shut down the drainers, there's not much time left."
Na'va'ta'narra held on to a small grey piece of compose-material sticking out from the walls of the tube she was walking through, although floating was more like it. If she concentrated hard enough she could see the endless reaches of space that surrounded the small tube that had been lowered by the small space station hovering over Ziano, the paradise planet. Although she didn't considered it much of a paradise planet herself, having researched the gasses surrounding it. And then there was the state of the planet, switching it's out of phase frequency too often to keep track off.
As she looked back to the Space Station she had come from, her home, she realised that it was now or never, noting in the back of her mind that retreating would likely be fatal to her. But if she tried to advance it could be fatal as well, as the small gass-vortex was still increasing in speed, making her vision blur trying to look at it, as well as sucking the little oxygen she was getting away from her mouth. Sersia was caught between two fires, and either way she would burn herself, but she had to pull through.
The last words Yarmi heard from the women he had loved for as long as he could remember were, "I'm going in." Then everything went quiet, for minutes.
Before a huge blast rocked both the station, and the tube that hung like a giant worm-like attachment from it's bottom. A second explosion revealed a huge vortex spawning forward from where once the Compose-tube had been, and it proceeded to suck everything into it's all-consuming maelstrom. No sound was brought forward, not even when the whole station was sucked into the vortex, grinded to small unrecognizable metal bits and pieces.
And then it was all over, the vortex dissapeared as quick as it had appeared, no longer being supported by the SesOps drainers that had been destroyed in the carnage. The only testimony to what had once been a Space Station being a small piece of Compose tube material, as it was close to indestructable, as well as some pieces of metal floating around going nowhere.
Close encounters of an unwelcome kind.
"Great, you know you're so stuck up and stubborn at some times. If you just loosened up a bit more, maybe we wouldn't have so many arguments."
"I am not stuck up or stubborn, I am merely trying to explain why your logic is flawed.but your interrupting my explanations every time is annoying to say the least."
Torres rolled her eyes. "There's a middle way too you know?"
'She's so damn captivating when she looks like that,' the half-Klingon mused. "You know why we were actually picked for this trip, just the two of us?"
"Because we thrashed Main Engineering yesterday and the Captain deemed this a suitable punishment for our actions?"
"Hey you trashed Engineering, I'm not the one who can put dents in the walls."
"Because you wouldn't listen to my explanation and mumbled that you only put up with me because I was the Captain's Pet Drone."
"Here we go again Well I know for sure that you were supposed to be teamed up with Flyboy instead of me, and I have yet to find out why I was send on this mission instead. I mean it's resource gathering, I'm sure there's something better to do for a Chief Engineer."
"Don't say it, I don't wanna hear it. I swear if Paris has influenced who was going on this mission somehow I will make sure he won't be able to walk for the coming few weeks."
"I believe it might be advisable for Lt. Paris to go into hiding then."
"Why?" Torres frowned as she turned around from her position in the front of the shuttle and faced Seven. "What aren't you telling me Seven?"
"I accidently overheard a conversation between Mr. Paris and the Captain. When I asked her afterwards why you were selected to accompany me for this resource-gathering mission, she refused to give a clear answer."
"Accidently my ass. And Paris better jump into a escapepod and shoot himself in space before I return," B'Elanna growled.
"Are you implying I was listening to what they were saying on purpose?"
Seven raised a eyebrow and went back to work on her console, scanning nearby planets for either foodstuffs or deposits of dilithium.
'Hah, got you speechless there, don't I,' B'Elanna thought triumphantically. She actually smiled as she was adjusting their flightplan slightly, so they would pass a planet that was sending out mysterious readings and which she was dying to find out more about.
"Lieutenant a unknown ship is approaching us fast, I'm reading high energy signatures."
"Loading up their weapons? Hail them."
"I have done so already, no response."
"Hail Voyager and tell them we are under attack. Just what the hell is with everyone always attacking us first and talk later?"
"Shields down to 78% I am unable to contact Voyager because of some disturbance a nearby energy field is creating."
"But there's no energy field anywhere in the vicinity, I checked and double-checked, the only thing that could possible cause this disturbance is the planet in front of us."
Seven frowned and almost felt out of her chair as another volley of plasma weapons hit their tiny shuttle. "I might be able to shake our enemies off by manoeuvring through this planet's atmosphere. The same disturbance that is disrupting our communication-attempts might be able to hide our shuttle long enough to put some distance between us and the Alien vessel."
"Is it safe?'
"I am positive."
"But not sure?"
"The sensors are unable to penetrate the atmosphere of that planet, although I am relatively certain it is slightly out of phase with the rest of the Universe. Furthermore, I cannot determine the composure of the gasses that cloud the atmosphere."
"Alright let's give it a try Seven."
"I will comply Lieutenant."
"It's not like we crashlanded or destroyed shuttles like this before," Torres mumbled under her breath.
"I am happy you put that much confidence in my flying skills and techniques," Seven countered, again bracing herself against her chair and console to avoid getting tossed through the shuttle.
"Advanced Borg hearing, I keep forgetting that," Torres mumbled, watching the viewscreen as the small shuttle slowly got swallowed by the planet's dark gray atmosphere.
"Shields down to 15%," Seven reported her hands moving over her console in a furious pace. "I'm reading enormous energy signatures being emitted from the planet."
"What? What's happening? Some kind of weapon loading up?"
"It started when the other vessel shot at us and apparantly a chain reaction followed soon afterwards. I am also assuming the Alien vessel has been shot down as I am no longer receiving any indications that they are still in pursuit."
"Lay out a course back to Voyager, and continue trying to hail them," B'Elanna ordered already starting to assess the damage to the shuttle.
"Unable to comply."
"I have lost control over the navigation systems, futhermore according to the ships sensors there is now a planetwide shield in place, which I will not be able to penetrate with weapons or any other way. We have to turn it off first."
"What do you mean you lost control over the navigation systems, and scan the planet for lifesigns, there has to be somebody on the planet bringing that shield in place.
"I am unable to comply, the ship appears to be adrift, and the senors are malfunctioning, our current course will take us to the planet's surface in about 12 seconds."
"Oh Kahless, not again " B'Elanna exclaimed, gripping her chair and preparing for yet another rough shuttlecrash.
Intuition, or maybe not.
"Anybody got the number of the shuttle that ran over me?" Torres mumbled cradling her head that felt like somebody was whacking it with a huge hammer.
She stood up on wobbly legs, a result from being tossed around the shuttle in ways that defied gravity. Looking around she groaned even more. "Total loss." There wasn't much left of the shuttle that would be salvagable.
Wiping some of the grime and dirt from her face, she examined herself for any injuries she might have sustained, but not have noticed because of the aftershock of the crash. B'Elanna was relieved to find none, well besides for a few bruises and undeep cuts, just nothing life threatening.
Her eyes widened as she realised she was forgetting something, or rather...someone. "Seven?"
A small responding groan came from underneath a pile of debris that had once been the ceiling of the shuttle, but was now reduced to worthless junk.
"Seven? Are you okay?" B'Elanna immediately started to tug away the metal plates and poles that covered the former drone.
"I am functioning," Seven replied meekly but softly.
Within a few seconds the half-Klingon had freed her companion, who seemed relatively undamaged despite of the enormous pile of rubble she had laid under. Undamaged, except for the small gash that ran from the Borg's left eyebrow around her eye to her cheek. Not thinking about what she was doing, B'Elanna reached out and wiped away the small trickle of blood that was forming. The scent of it was filling the air around the half-Kligon rapidly, and taking another deep breath, she quickly wiped it off to her clothes, knowing what the smell of blood could do to her.
All the time the blonde drone had done nothing but stare at B'Elanna, occasionally blinking with her eyes, but otherwise not moving or speaking, which was very out of character for Seven of Nine, the ever observant. Frowning the Borg finally snapped out of her reverie and started to scan her surroundings. "We will not be able to get off this planet in this shuttle."
"Thanks for stating the obvious. I'm not even sure anything of this shuttle works anymore, it looks like a total mess."
"Perhaps it would be advisable for us to gather anything that is valuable and try and find somebody who can help us contact Voyager. There might be a chance our attackers have followed us and are looking for us."
"Can't argue with that logic."
"Which doesn't happen that often," Seven mumbled slightly under her breath.
"What was that?" B'Elanna asked with a raised eyebrow. She could have sworn she heard Seven say something snappy.
"Clarify?" Seven asked feigning innocence, and failing as her blue eyes twinkled slightly in amusement.
"Nothing, I guess I always assumed the Doctor couldn't find a sense of humor on you if he did a autopsy."
B'Elanna once again raised her eyebrow, not realising she was mimicking one of Seven's characteristical responses. She didn't say another word, even though she was sure Seven had spoken, and she could have sworn Seven had once proclaimed Borg didn't lie. Apparantly there was more to the former drone than met the eye.
Closing her eyes for a moment as to compose her thoughts, Torres scanned their surroundings the find any clue of civilization. She was dissapointed to find none. Seven hadn't been able to scan for any lifeforms, apparantly the sensors had been malfunctioning because of the electric field the planet seemed to emit.
"Okay Miss know-it-all, where do we go from here," B'Elanna said turning around to Seven. Truth to be told she was positively unsure what to do next herself, save for trying to walk around the wilderness and find help. But she had no clue which way to walk, as they were completely surrounded by high trees and thick underbrush. Hell, it was going to be a pain to advance through the forest in the first place, unless the Borg had any bright ideas. The Chief Engineer actually hoped Seven had some good ideas, which said a lot about how desperate she really was.
"I am not sure without being able to access any equipment, how to scan our surroundings."
B'Elanna raised her eyebrows. "How about your intuition?"
Seven frowned and raised her ocular implant at the question. "I am unsure how to proceed with that matter."
"Okay...how about you just close your eyes, and stretch your arms in front of you, just slightly. Breath in, wait a few seconds, and then breath out, repeat that until your mind is clear. Then just let your senses guide you."
The former drone did as told, her eyes closed as she tried to become intune with her surroundings. But after just a few seconds she opened her eyes again and looked at Torres. "I believe I have found something that will help us out of our current predictment."
"Really? So you felt something out of intuition?"
"No," Seven replied in her normal icy clipped tone.
"Because of the extreme silence during those seconds I was able to pick up a distant sound originating from a point northwest of our position. I believe the sound was produced by a sentient being, although it is still unclear to me what or whom produced that specific sound." Seven finished, even standing with her hands behind her back in her usual calm and composed way, when reporting something to a superior.
B'Elanna just blinked. "Oh...you damn Borg," she muttered and stomped off through the forest...in the wrong direction.
"The sound came from the northwest, you are walking towards the southeast," Seven reported confused that the half-Klingon had called her names again. "Lieutenant, your...relaxation techniques did help me pinpoint the location of that sound."
The Chief Engineer mumbled some Klingon curses, some of which caused Seven to raise her eyebrows at the implied obscenity. "Seven," B'Elanna grumbled with a hint of anger in her voice, "just drop the Lieutenant, Voyager probably doesn't even know we're missing, or stranded on yet another mysterious planet. So you can drop the formalities for the time being, okay?"
"Indeed," Seven mumbled walking off in the correct direction this time, the Klingon following slowly after her.
"Shouldn't we have taken some sharp tools with us to cut away the underbrush? I can't see how you're going to walk through all that," B'Elanna exclaimed.
The former drone turned around so B'Elanna could see what she was doing, and then proceeded to cut a thick branch blocking their advance, in two with a efficient lowering of her borg enhanced hand. "I believe we do no need those tools."
Torres blinked again. B'Elanna swallowed with difficulty at the shear force Seven was displaying, she had already seen the dents the Borg had put into hull plating, earlier that day. "So what other tricks do you have up your sleeve Seven? X-ray eyes? An invisibility-button? A build in phaser in your hands or something?"
"Never mind, and cut the Lieutenant for crying out loud."
"I will comply."
"Good," B'Elanna muttered and followed Seven deeper into the forest, all the time wondering what she had done to get into this predictment in the first place. 'I wonder what's up next, probably either flying hippo's or some kind of attempt on our lives by the local inhabitants.'
Sure enough before she grumbled about being too negative, a arrow flew through the air seemingly coming from nowhere. The half-Klingon gave a small shriek of suprise, followed by a soft moan of pain as the spearhead plowed through her flesh. A second later she sank away in a welcomed darkness.
"Ughhhhh, that's two times today," B'Elanna groaned cradling her head..
"I see you have awoken Lieu...B'Elanna Torres," Seven's voice came from somewhere next to the half-Klingon.
"The local inhabitants thought you were a Za'hum."
"A what?" B'Elanna opened one eye cautiously and immediately closed it again as the bright sunlight made her headache become even worse.
"A large six-legged mammal, covered in a layer of fur, I believe it closely resembles a bear on the planet Earth," Seven explained.
"They thought I was a furry animal?" B'Elanna exclaimed a tone of anger sharpening her voice.
"They realised their error in judgement almost immediately when I came into vision. They are a remarkable species B'Elanna Torres."
B'Elanna grumbled and opened her eyes again, still fluttering her lashes slightly to get used to the bright light. A few seconds later realization dawned on her the bright light wasn't coming from a sun, but from a primitive lamp hanging from the ceiling of a room she and Seven were residing in.
"What happened after they shot me?"
"I carried you to their village, after they had motioned me to follow them. After that they administrated a drug to us. After which..."
"Yes, to make our bodies get used to the atmosphere of this planet."
"It is very difficult to explain," Seven said looking around the small room she was sitting in.
She had been sitting next to the half-Klingon for a day now, at least she assumed it was a day, it was very hard to measure time on a planet that was out of phase. And continously shifted to another phase. Seven had been positively worried about her companion, even though her data assured her the wound B'Elanna had sustained was in no way reason for concern.
As her eyes were drawn back to B'Elanna, she thought about the fact that she had never ever seen the half-Klingon sleep. She had seemed so peacefully lying on that bed, her sleep undisturbed and her features complete relaxed and surrendered to her subconscious. So much different from the woman that always lashed out at the former drone at every opportunity she got.
Seven thought back about their argument in Engineering two days earlier, she wondered why she herself always had the urge to anger the Klingon. There was just something about the dark-haired woman that seemed to draw her in. And that fact scared her, so her logical response was to make a comment or statement that would cause verbal mudtossing between her and the Chief Engineer. Although her so-called Borg shielding prevented most people from reaching out to her emotionally, that tactic somehow didn't apply to B'Elanna Torres. So the only solution was to start an argument to keep her mind occupied.
Her musings were interrupted by one of the local inhabitants from a race called the Itasch, who entered the room. Seven nodded to the visitor.
"I see our other guest has awoken. Welcome to our noble village, and my sincere apologies about the misunderstanding that caused your injury. It was a very unfortunate incident, but you must understand we have never seen others of your kind before yesterday."
"Yesterday?" B'Elanna asked slightly amused.
"Yes, because of the time differential your injuries will recover much slower then they would have somewhere else. Nevertheless even though our means to cure and heal are primitive, we were able to undo most of the damage your body sustained."
"Time differential?" B'Elanna said on a soft tone. She was completely confused as to what was going on.
"It is very difficult to explain," the Itasch male said rubbing his bald forehead.
"So I've heard," B'Elanna snorted giving Seven a look.
"Ah yes, I explained it to her, and she understood it surprisingly well and quick. Although she was reluctant to explain to me how you two arrived on this planet, perhaps you care to indulge me?"
"I see," the male said his lightblue eyes twinkling slightly. "Oh, pardon my manners, I am Ja'hen of Ziano Zeli."
"Well, nice to meet you Ja'hen, I think Seven already explained who we were?"
"Yes she did, I believe your name was B'Elinna."
"B'Elanna," Seven corrected amused at the current conversation. "B'Elanna Torres, Chief Engineer on the USS Voyager, a Klingon/Human hybrid and.."
"Okay Seven, that was *more* then enough."
B'Elanna studied the Itasch male carefully. He had practically no bodyhair and his head was shiny bald, save for the three small protrusions that were scattered across the top of his head. In general he looked friendly, especially his blue eyes that were surrounded by small red and yellow flecks against a pale greenish skin. What she noticed almost immediately were the way his hands and feet were shaped. His arms were tentacle like, with 3 small extensions what she assumed were his fingers. The same accounted for his legs. In general the Itasch seemed to be build in a very flexible way, as she saw Je'han extend his fingers to grab something that was like a feet away. Her eyeballs almost rolled out of the sockets as she saw that, but she wisely refrained from making any comments.
"This planet is called Ziano, meaning Paradise in our language," Ja'hen explained. "But in fact it's a curse and a blessing in one." He sighed, a weird soft sound. "You see many many years ago our homeplanet, and the other planets were we live on, were hit by a mysterious disease which made us age rapidly. We knew of the existence of this planet before that time, and we never had a reason to seek out it's secrets because of the danger of doing so. But now we had no other choice."
B'Elanna listened intrigued, and saw from the corner of her eye Seven was doing the same, although she had probably already heard the story before.
"Time is split in two here, because of the phase gasses that surround this planet. It's kind of like time is advancing very rapidly on one side, and very slowly on the other side. That difference, the variance is brought together near the center of the planet. It basically comes down to the fact that time *is* moving here more rapidly on this planet, but at the same time we don't age."
B'Elanna frowned at the information she had just received. "So that is the reason it took me a day to wake up? How is this all possible?" She shook her head and immediately felt pain radiate from her wounded shoulder towards the rest of her body.
"We don't know, although we have an idea. There's much more to this story though."
"What about the planetwide shield that was brought into place as soon as we broke through the atmosphere?"
"We have heard about that from Seven of Nine, and we have no idea what triggered it, as we do not possess such technology."
"Then who does?"
Ja'hen shook his head. "We cannot help you with that fact. I know you two want to go back from wherever you came from, but we prefer to stay here, so we cannot help you, and I cannot allow you to research this matter much further."
"You're statement is flawed, you come to offer your hospitality, yet we *are* prisoners on this planet because you dissallow us to find a way to get back...home."
B'Elanna noticed how Seven seemed to frown at the word home, and she was surprised the blonde thought about Voyager in that way.
"I'm sorry. As I explained those are our rules for newcomers, almost all of us came here voluntarily, and they stay here in that way. You are still our guests and are welcomed to explore the village and the nearby landscape, but I must insist that you do not try to get off this planet. Believe me, many have tried, a vessel that is launched has to go through two barriers before reaching space, and although it is easy to get in with high speed, if you try to get out the amount of speed is not sufficient to move through the barriers quick enough."
"Resource gathering mission from hell," B'Elanna grumbled, and only then noticed Seven had dissapeared from the room without a word.
Where the heart is.
The former drone was sitting down at a small lake at the edge of the village. Occasionally she dipped a finger in the cool water, watching with child-like fascination how the clear liquid responded to the intrusion. She appeared to be completely lost in her own thoughts, as she didn't notice B'Elanna's presence until the half-Klingon was right behind her. Only then did she sense the bodyheat from somebody else but herself.
"Why did you leave?" B'Elanna questioned. She arched her brows as she noticed how Seven was trying to avoid her eyes.
"I am unsure," Seven confessed. "I believe I acted on impulse. I felt a sudden compelling need to be alone."
"Oh...was it because of what you said earlier?"
B'Elanna sighed, wondering why Seven was trying so hard to appear cool and composed, while it was obvious something was bothering her. "You called Voyager your home, and immediately afterwards seemed uncomfortable with it. Then a couple of seconds later you were gone, it's obvious you're troubled."
"I never had a home," Seven blurted out, turning her head slightly so she could look the half Klingon directly in the eyes. Her own blue pools were full of the emotions she was trying so desperatly to hide. "I do not have any recollections from before my presence on The Raven. And I know I did not consider that place my home. The Collective was something that sustained me, when I was Borg and one of many. As an individual..." she paused for a second, her eyes brimming with tears she refused to shed. "I can not return to the Borg, nor can I return to Earth. I do not belong anywhere, nor do I have a place to call home."
Biting the inside of her cheeks, B'Elanna tried to desperatly come up with something that she could say to the blonde sitting just a little distance away. She wanted to reach out and pull the other woman in a hug, but at the same time she just couldn't do it.
"Seven," she finally started. Setting her jaw, she sat down next to the former drone and eyed her for a second. "Being a hybrid does not mean you don't belong anywhere. I don't really have a place to return to either," she stated, looking at a far off point in the distance.
"You have friends aboard Voyager," Seven said, looking down at the water again.
"And you do too, you just don't realise it yet. I know..." she hesitated for a second. "I'm certain that you're more human then you let on too. Stop trying to be perfect Seven. You're not just Human or Borg, you're both. You should not pretend otherwise, just be yourself."
"I do not know how."
"There's no how."
Seven stared at the small lake again. Her hand moved through the liquid, and the water started to ripple, causing the smallest of waves to hit the soft sandy shore. For a second her hand was motionless, but then it moved up, tiny drops cascading off her porcelain white flesh, before being collected by the pool it belonged too.
"I am still like these drops," Seven said eventually, after a few minutes of not decidedly uncomfortable silence.
B'Elanna looked at her puzzled, one of her brows arched.
"I am still one of many."
"We all are," B'Elanna replied. She crawled over to Seven, and let her own hand dangle in the cool lake.
"You see.." she said, tracing Seven's Borg enhanced hand. "When the drops fall back into the pool, it is embraced by the rest of the water. It is cherished, welcomed, and part of that substance. Just like you a part of Voyager Seven. One drop might seem like nothing, but it's still a part of a larger whole."
Seven smiled, her eyes the softest of blue. And B'Elanna secretly watched the beautiful mirror-image that was presented in front of her, when the lake finally went still again. It made her feel very ackward to know that deep inside Seven was struggling with the same fears any other person would.
"I'm sorry," B'Elanna stated, suddenly a big lump in her throat.
"For ever claiming you were still a Borg. For calling you emotionless and for dismissing your ideas before even considering them. For causing the fight that got us stuck on this damn phase-shifting-planet."
Seven had the tiniest grin plastered on her face at B'Elanna's last apology. "I believe our being stuck here could be blamed on the both of us."
B'Elanna shrugged. She wondered since when she had become the ship's counselor. Then again this was the first time ever she had seen Seven this emotional and even close to tears. She had been surprised to feel her twin hearts clench slightly when she had seen the normally so aloof blonde emotionally disheveled like that.
"What do you propose as our next course of action," Seven suddenly asked.
"Build a shuttle and kiss this planet goodbye?"
Seven arched an shapely eyebrow at that statement. "That seems...unlikely."
B'Elanna snorted. "Voyager will probably be able to track down where we have crash-landed by tracing our warptrail. But if they attempt to go into orbit they'll probably end up in the same position as us."
"Yes, but not only will her progress be hampered by phase gasses, the planet wide shield is probably still in place."
"Well if we can detect those gasses with just a routine check, it will probably not escape Voyager's attention," B'Elanna mused.
"Indeed. Perhaps we should investigate the possible source of this planet wide shield," Seven proposed.
"I don't want to be shot again," B'Elanna muttered darkly. "This species, however they might extend their hospitality, are not going to be happy if we don't respect their wishes, and go poke around."
"The only other alternative seems to be to...wait and see."
"I don't like that either," B'Elanna replied with a sour look on her face.
Somebody shouting in the distance made the two women rise in confusion. Whatever the source of the sounds was, it was closing in on them fast.
"What's going on," B'Elanna asked as she saw some of the Itasch ran past her towards one of the larger huts in the village.
"She has awoken," one of the females said, dancing slightly as she did so.
Seven arched an eyebrow, a puzzled expression on her face.
"She has awoken," the female said again, before she tugged at B'Elanna and Seven's arms, and pulled them to the village.
As they got closer to large hut, the two women noticed the large crowd that had gathered in front of it. There was a collection of all kinds of Itasch, both small and big, female and male, no pattern at all. The only thing they had in common was the estatic shouting and cries of joy as they mumbled in their strange language.
"What's going on?" B'Elanna asked again, hoping for a answer that would actually answer her question this time.
"Fell-from-skies," one of the males said. "The being that dropped down has awoken."
B'Elanna frowned. She wondered briefly if the translator was malfunctioning, but dismissed that possibility almost outright. Her curiosity had been peaked though, and she started to push away the Itasch that were cluttered all around her. After what seemed like an eternity she finally reached the doorway of the primitive hut.
What she saw next made her jaw hit the floor.
"Where..." the woman looked around at the strange collection of creatures gathered around her bed. "...am I."
B'Elanna was still trying to remove her jaw from the floor. The female Itasch that was looking around with curious bright green eyes, seemed to be a normal example of her species, except for one thing. Just below her shoulders metal wires seemed to be intertwined with her flesh in a criss cross pattern. It was unlike anything the half Klingon had ever seen before, even the Borg were unable to mingle flesh with technology in such a delicate way.
Ja'hen walked in before B'Elanna was able to ask the female anything. Turning her head around she scanned the still growing crowd for the figure of Seven of Nine, and was surprised to find the former drone actually standing at the other side of the bed already.
Seven seemed to be just as surprised as B'Elanna herself had been, although she did try her best to hide it. Her human hand reached out towards the intricate design of metal that was shaped in a half moon form, protruding from the woman's shoulders. It was almost as if she had been given steel wings.
"How do you feel?" Ja'hen asked.
"Tired...so tired," the woman complained moving a hand up to rub her aching head. Her eyes shot open wide as she noticed the way her hands felt. "What happened to me?"
"I..." Ja'hen looked over his shoulder to another male Itasch with a soft yellow skin. "I believe it would be very hard to explain."
"I am...Sersia Na'va'ta'narra. I used to be a Lead Scientist aboard the Chrigton Space Station," taking a deep breath the woman traced the metallic lines that were visible just below her skin. "We were researching how the phase gasses that influences Ziano's phasing would react to a certain draining method. But something went wrong, our attempt was sabotaged and I..." her eyes widened and a sad look appeared on her face.
"You were found by our northern most outpost. When some of our scouts were doing their usual perimeter check they heard a sound they couldn't place, and a soft whistling noise. They spotted a white light that fell down from the skies at a very fast speed, and when they investigated the impact site they found you."
B'Elanna listened to the tale with disbelief. There just wasn't any way this was possible, was there? "But...surely she couldn't have survived a fall like that?" she questioned, not knowing she voiced her oppinion out loud.
"When we found her a strange metallic substance, that almost seemed sentient had merged with a large area of her backside, as well as her arms. It seems they strenghtened all her bones, that were probably reduced to dust at such an impact. This same substance seems to have softened the impact in some way. But I've never seen such a thing before."
"It is Composetube material," Sersia explained.
Seven was studying the subject of her interest very intensly. "I can detect that this material is indeed exuding signs of being alive."
Na'va'ta'narra sighed. She kicked against the soft white sheet that covered most of her body. "It must have something to do with the phase gasses. We were busy with trying to find a way here by lowering a tube that could drain those gasses away. Over the past few months we actually made some progress too, however we had never really considered how to land on the planet safely after exiting the tube. It couldn't be too wide because SesOps couldn't keep the drainage levels high enough to ensure one's safety." Her voice was still slightly hoarse from not having talked for a extensive period of time.
The male Itasch officer Ja'hen had been looking at, finally stepped closer to the bed with some medical tools in his hands. "I'm Hjelom," he said introducting himself. "I have watched your progress very carefully. To be honest, at one time I was sure you would never awaken. The damage to your body was...beyond extensive."
"How long have I been here?"
"Depends on your definition of time," Ja'hen explained.
"I know I have aged...but how long have I been here in normal time? How long will I have been missed by the Scientific High Command?"
"About 8 months," Ja'hen confessed.
Na'va'ta'narra almost fainted. She gasped in disbelief as she stared at her mutilated body. "So many will have died by now..."
Ja'hen tugged slightly at the green leather shirt he was wearing. "We have started anew here," he explained. "What happens there, will no longer be of any concern to us anymore. When you arrive here, you will leave everything behind. There's no way any of us could have survived otherwise."
"HOW can you say that...how can you possibly talk about the deaths of hundreds, thousands each and every day in such an emotionless and detached way," Sersia coughed slightly as she strained to voice her anger. "I know you," she said pointing at Je'han.
The Itasch in question bowed his head slightly, his eyes swirling with emotions he refused to discuss.
"You are the son of Kaylar aren't you? You should know what your father tried to accomplish, what his lifework was. He gave up his life to ensure you and many others of your age could perhaps live to survive the carnage on our home planet."
"He died because he thought he could solve it. It can't be solved," Ja'hen stated bitterly.
Ja'hen's eyes were full of fire as he stared at the crowd that was still standing at the two small doors that gave access to the sparsely decorated house. "LEAVE," he bellowed.
For a moment the other Itasch seemed to disobey a direct order, but one after another finally left. With the exception of B'Elanna and Seven, who seemed to have reached a silent understanding about talking to the mysterious female.
"It will certainly not be solved if we all had the same attitude as you have," Sersia spat out, her pale brown hands trembling.
Ja'hen opened his mouth to say something, but he closed it just as quickly again. "Fine," he hissed. "You will be allowed to stay at our village...on this planet. However you are bound to the same rules as any other guests, you will not attempt to find a way off Ziano. If you do, you will be banished to the black swamps." He eyed B'Elanna and Seven for another second, before stomping away, Hjelom following right behind him.
"They could really use a lesson in hospitality," B'Elanna muttered disgusted.
"And who might you be?" Sersia asked, taking a pillow and propping it behind her back so she could sit more upright. Her green eyes scanned the dark-skinned woman standing at one side of the bed, and finally settled on the blonde covered in mysterious metal adornments. Without warning she stretched out of her tentacle-like arms, and squeezed B'Elanna's arms who yelped in pain.
"Non-flexible," Sersia stated. "Very interesting. You are not from around here?"
"No," Seven said arching her occular implant slightly.
"I was going to ask you if you somehow ended up in the same accident I did, but your adornments seems to be different."
Seven remained silent.
"Not very talkative huh?" Sersia shook her head, tracing her hands again. "It could really use some refreshments. I think they probably gave me liquid food all the time I've been here, I feel like my stomach has been empty for an eternity's worth."
B'Elanna repressed the urge to scratch her head in confusion. "I was going to ask if you perhaps knew something about this planet, or the planet wide shielding that seems to cover at least the entire hemisphere."
"No...we researched Ziano from our Space Station only. It wasn't our intention to ever set foot on this planet, we would leave that to the other scientists. I only know that some sketches we found a long time ago told us about this planet and it's mysterious technology. We are not entirely sure who lived here before it became abandoned, but we do know they left their technology behind. It might very well be possible this technology is responsible for keeping the planet itself out of phase."
"We were just scanning for some materials for our vessel when we were chased away by a very unfriendly vessel. I guess we thought we could shake them off by moving through the clouds that surround this planet, but as soon as we entered the atmosphere we lost all control over our systems. The planet wide shield was in place a few seconds later," B'Elanna explained.
"My apologies...but I'm still unsure who you are."
"I'm B'Elanna Torres, Chief Engineer aboard Voyager, our starship. This is Seven of Nine, Astrometrics Officer."
Seven cocked an eyebrow, but just kept standing next to the bed in her usual emotionless stance, hands firmly clasped behind her back.
"Why is she..." Sersia frowned as she tried to find the right words.
"It's a very long story," B'Elanna explained.
A soft humming distrupted from whatever Sersia was going to say next, and her eyes shot open wide as she felt an eletric current pull through her body. "Ughhhh," she gasped as her body started to coil and spasm uncontrollably.
"Sersia?" B'Elanna called out, trying to find the cause of the woman's distress.
"Gods it hurts," the woman cried out, her eyes rolling around as she wheezed.
Without another word Seven reached forwards and rolled the Itasch female on her stomach. She seemed to hesitate for a second before plunging her assimilation tubules in Sersia's neck, who's body came to rest immediately.
B'Elanna stared at Seven in disbelief. "What did you do?"
Sersia looked at her blue leather dress which was several sizes too big for her, she snorted slightly in disgust. "I don't like blue."
B'Elanna shrugged. "It was the only thing I was able to find on such a short notice."
Seven glanced at the other two women for a few seconds before she stared at the sky that was darkening above her. "Just before we crashlanded on this planet, I was able to pinpoint the location of the energy spike. I believe if we are able to find this source, we should be able to find the device that controls the planetary shielding system."
Na'va'ta'narra looked at the blonde in approval. "Sounds like a plan." She paused, extending an arm and stopping Seven in her tracks. "I should apologize for my rude behaviour earlier, I do owe you one."
"I merely corrected a problem," Seven stated on her normal cool tone, but she did appear slightly unnerved by the other woman.
B'Elanna shrugged. "How is it possibly you were able to walk so soon after being immobile for such an extensive period of time?"
"It could perhaps be a side-effect of this planet's phasing. I seen to have only aged about 2 months, while I've been here much longer," Sersia explained. She reached a hand around her back, feeling the warm material of the metal that protruded from her back.
"Almost as if you were given wings."
Sersia smiled slightly at the half Klingon's words. "I know...it's just making me feel uncomfortable. It's not that the material is very heavy or anything, but I feel like I'm a host for another sentient being."
"It is aware of your presence, but only interacting with your body," Seven stated. "I made sure it will not attempt to harm your body again. Perhaps in due time you could reach a compromise."
B'Elanna noticed they had arrived at the end of the path that had led away from the village into a colourful forest. "I noticed this when we crashed down. Directly to the North should be a range of open spots. I just wish our tricorders had survived the landing, I really want to know what we're dealing with."
Seven nodded ever so slightly as they continued walking through the underbrush that became more unpassable every second. The blonde managed to cut away most plants though, slowly creating a path they could follow.
"Do you believe your Starship has traced you down by now?"
"Well we left a pretty clear warptrail," B'Elanna mused. "Even so, there's no way they can probably find us with all this disturbance clouding the planet's atmosphere."
"Ziano..." Sersia said, biting the inside of her cheeks at the name. "They called it the Planet of Paradise. But once you descend down on it, there is no way to leave. So what kind of paradise would this be?"
"You want to return to your people?" Seven wondered.
Sersia locked eyes with the blonde. She was hurting badly, but not trying to hide it. "Most of my people are probably dead. We discovered an aging disease that hits all layers of our society. Most who got infected died within weeks, months if they were lucky. It kept spreading, even though we placed everyone in quarantaine almost immediately after a test had proven they were positive. The virus seems unstoppable, and we were unable to find a cure..."
"You believe research of the phase gasses that surround this planet could perhaps counter the virus's effects."
"Yeah..." Sersia mumbled. "But we've tested everything we could come up with, for several months now...and found nothing. And then there's this guy who exploited some nearby planets. He build domes in which he houses the remaining uninfected people, but for a price. He sabotaged each and every attempt we made to come up with a cure. Hell, he even managed to get the Senate to cut our funding. I can't believe this..." she muttered a dark look on her face. "Saryn is becoming rich over the backs of his own people. He's probably the one responsible for blowing up our research station. We had almost 500 people working on there."
"I mentioned this ship that attacked us before, could it be..." B'Elanna's eyebrows rose as she voiced her thoughts.
"It's certainly possible," Sersia said nodding. Her flexible hands reached out slightly to knock away some kind of reptile that was hanging from a branch, about to drop down on an certain unsuspecting half Klingon.
"I still have to get used to seeing that," B'Elanna mumbled her eyes wide.
"We should perhaps take a rest," Seven suggested as they arrived at the first open spot. "Night is falling, and we will not be able to see a hostile creature in time."
B'Elanna frowned at Seven's logic. In fact she was positive there was a whole different reason why Seven wanted to stop their trek through the forest. Nevertheless she did acknowledge the fact that her legs were tired. They had walked for several hours now, afraid that their presence, or lack thereof would be noticed and some of the Itasch from the village would pursue them. Fortunately they had not, B'Elanna could only guess as to why. She hadn't forgotten about the threats that had been uttered not an hour before they left.
Sersia walked to the middle of the open spot, her body moving with a grace that reminded B'Elanna more of a exotic dance then simple walking. The brown-skinned female seemed to be disturbed by something as she moved her tentacle-like hands outwards. Her eyes closed as she took in some deep breaths, and started to move around as if in a trance-like state.
"Haven't you wondered why there is no growth at this place? Why the moonbeams dance around without ever touching down. Why the soil is perfect, untouched, unblemished, and yet still looks scarred as if a thousand battles had been waged on it. Why no creatures of the night dare to enter this spot, haven't dared too for perhaps hundreds of years..." Sersia said her eyes still closed as she smiled and lowered herself to the ground. Her hands moved around, grabbing hands of the dark earth and scattering it all around her.
Both B'Elanna and Seven were still standing at the edge of the spot that was perhaps 200 square meters, shaped in what seemed to be a perfect circle.
"It feels different," Seven admitted, her tone having lost all it's edge and coolness.
"Oh but it is. Energies flow here, unbound, untamed. Energies flow here, course through this very same spot. They move up and come together again." The green-eyed woman finally moved up again and walked towards her companions. "It might be this very same energy that ensures this planet is out of phase, the very same energy that could save my people. I need only but collect a sample, of what it's like before they form the very same gasses that surround this planet.
"It means we're getting close then," B'Elanna mused. "I believe there was a scattered pattern of open spots, this must be the outer ring. The closer those spots are together, the closer we'll get to the source of this."
Seven said nothing, she removed a small bottle of water from the belt she had acquired from the village earlier that day. Tugging the cap off, the blonde just sat down at the edge, and drank some of the water. She knew that although this was essentially only their second day on the very same planet, the phasing ment her body had been thrown into chaos. Truthfuly she was becoming more ill every minute, and it ment she had to keep up her fluid levels.
B'Elanna allowed Sersia to stalk off to the spot she had sat at moments before. The Itasch woman seemed to be lost in her own thoughts, and didn't even notice that she had been left alone. The Chief Engineer's attention was irrevocably drawn to somebody else.
"I don't know why you keep trying..."
B'Elanna's nosetrils were flaring with pent up anger. "Don't think I've not noticed how you were sweating earlier. I know you don't normally sweat, nor do you become exhausted this quick. So come on spill it Borg."
"Since when do you take notice of my physical status," Seven asked, her eyebrow and the occular implant above it arching with the question.
"I always did," B'Elanna admitted, sitting down next to the drone for the second time that day. "I just made sure you wouldn't notice it."
They sat there in silence for quite some time, both noticing how the temperature had been dropping steadily ever since the sun had gone down. But even though the silence was there covering them like a blanket, it was never uncomfortable. B'Elanna even caught herself drifting in and out of sleep. Knocking her head against the tree behind her she blinked and turned her head towards the Itasch female that was lying on the open spot, apparantly soundly asleep. She smiled slightly before moving her head towards the direction Seven had been sitting at. And was surprised the other woman was looking at her with her liquid blue eyes. Almost as if they were asking a silent question.
"Do you care about me, B'Elanna?"
The half Klingon was stunned, her mouth opening on a slight gasp. She wondered where this question had come from so suddenly. Instead of answering the question she looked away for a second, her inner turmoil was all consuming. "What prompted this question Seven?"
"It was not only 'my' body that behaves in a...disfunctional way. I have noticed you are exuding the same signs of illness I have."
B'Elanna bit her lips at that conclusion. She should have known nothing escpaed Seven, the ever observant one. "Yeah...I know. I'm starting to believe that the drug that was administered to us either had some sort of side-effect. Or perhaps we need a dose every now and then to prevent out body from breaking down..."
"I'm afraid," Seven admitted.
Seven nodded, drawing her knees together and moving her head on top of it. "Would my presence be missed?" she wondered.
B'Elanna wondered if it was a rhetorical question, but as she observed Seven from the relative darkness she was sitting in, she knew that the blonde was really unnerved. "Why does this bother you now Seven? And yes...you'll be missed, I know that for sure."
"I've never stopped to think about my own mortality. It should be irrelevant, but I'm finding it is not. The last time I was confronted by the fragileness of this weak body was when the Vinculum caused chaos."
"Seven..." B'Elanna hesitated for a second before she scooted over towards Seven. "You made a big impact on all of us."
The blonde nodded, but still looked quite miserable. "I believe my body's responses might also hamper my emotional functioning.
"No one is expecting you to be completely perfect," B'Elanna said, placing a hand on Seven's shoulder as she leaned back against a tree.
"We should rest," Seven stated, becoming decidedly uncomfortable as the silence continued to stretch across several minutes.
"The answer is yes, Seven," B'Elanna said, finally answering Seven's first question. Her eyes eyes held Seven's for a moment, before she closed them. "Good night."
"Good night, B'Elanna..." Seven said, closing her own eyes. "And thank you."
The brunette smiled. "You're welcome.
Even more discoveries.
The building was a beautiful temple like construction. It was like nothing Seven or B'Elanna had ever seen before. And from Sersia's gasps of surprise, the Itasch woman hadn't come across such a structure before either.
The big stairs that led up to the pale white columns that supported the roof above it, was probably hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years old. Yet it still didn't show any signs that it had been unused for such a long time. Not even a stone appeared to be out of place, and somehow it served B'Elanna to have goosebumps arising all over her body.
"Peculiar," Seven stated, seemingly to be her old self again.
"More like downright spooky," B'Elanna said eyeing the structure with disdain.
Na'va'ta'narra ignored both of the woman's comments. "The energies are different here, they seem to be bound to this place."
"It does seem like this is the center."
Sersia nodded at the half Klingon. "Yes...but even if we managed to somehow turn the planetwide shield off, and even manage to absorb the phase gasses, there's still no garuantee we'll ever get off this planet. Unless your starvessel has not given up it's search. It's just that I'm not sure how much time has passed already."
"What do you mean?" B'Elanna asked.
"I don't know...it might seem like only 2 days have passed here, it might very well be 2 weeks using your time definition."
Swatting some dust from her tunic, B'Elanna put her hands in her side. "No sense in worrying about that now. I say let's investigate this...whatever it is."
Seven hadn't even waited for the Chief Engineer to come to that conclusion and was already at the top of the stairs. She was moving her hands across the pictures that had been chiseled in the marble columnns. "It does not seem a normal place of worship," she stated.
"I think this might be build by whoever housed here, before one of my people ever set foot on this planet."
Inside they immediately stood in a very large room, the walls and ceiling decorated with fresco's and ancient writings. But there was no altar, and no means to sit down in any way. There were no symbols of any God that could have been worshipped inside, and there was no hint as to who had build the structure either. The only thing that really drew attention was the large hole in the middle of the ceiling. Soft sunlight was scattered around the starshaped edge of the roofwindow. It created a similar starshaped pattern on the ground, shining directly on another set of stairs descending downwards.
"Follow the light?"
"Indeed," Seven said a hint of a smile tugging at her mouthcorners.
They only moved underground a couple of meters, reaching the end of the stairs well within a minute.
"This energy seems to be tampering with my implants," Seven complained, feeling how her assimilation tubules extended without warning. She closed her eyes for a second, trying to control her actions, and was satisfied to see the tubules withdraw again.
B'Elanna was standing mortified at the entrance of a long hallway. Even though it was quite dark in the distance, the light that was shining down through the roof managed to reach all the way down. The bright beams shone on several sun bleeched bones that had been tossed on two large piles at both sides of the hallway.
"Interesting," Seven said, arching an eyebrow and moving past Torres who was still standing stock still.
"No it's not," B'Elanna said shuddering, earning her another look from Sersia this time.
"These are not bones from my species," the green eyed female exclaimed. She shrugged before examing the walls. "Look at this," she said moving her hand across a panel that had been covered for dust for centuries.
The dark metal display immediately drew attention as it stuck out from the otherwise milky white walls that created the hallway that seemed to go on forever. It was kind of ackward that it didn't seem to have any doors at all.
Seven tapped a couple of the keys, and smiled slightly as the display lighted up. Although she didn't recognize any of the functions, nor the writings that were imprinted on the wall right above the panel, she had an idea as to which button would do what. It only took her a couple of seconds of trying before she hit a button that cause a loud chirping to errupt from everywhere around the three women.
"Ack..." B'Elanna muttered her eyes widening as she saw small compartments fall open at about every few meters of wall. Relief washed over her as the small alcoves in the wall lighted up, instantly blinding her.
"Come," Sersia motioned. "These energies, they are also influencing my own body, I do not feel in control of my flexing."
B'Elanna nodded seeing how the Itasch's fingers were stretching to some unclear goal. The half Klingon herself was sweating more and more provusively. Her twin hearts seemed to beat out of her chest for no apparant reason and it was not only ticking her off, it unsettled her as well. Looking at her Borg companion, she knew the blonde wasn't faring any better, despite her attempts, the tubules kept extending every now and then.
They reached another big room, although this one was considerably smaller then the one above ground. There were no wall decorations at all, probably because the chamber was used for a wholly different purpose. About 10 consoles were scattered in a half circle, metallic chairs rising up from the ground in front of each display.
"I do recognize some of this," Sersia concluded looking at the Alien technology.
"I don't," B'Elanna admitted. "It looks really advanced though."
Seven had already walked to one of the consoles, trying to understand the continous data stream that was displayed. "This computer seems to take care of a special cooling system," she frowned as she looked at the far edge of the room. Without another word she stalked towards it, and inspected it's contents.
B'Elanna was peering around Seven's body. "Some kind of maintenance system," she said frowning. There were several large containers of blue fluid, green fluid and even some containers that held a colourless substance. Large pipes stuck out of the ceiling and the northern wall, leading away from the containers towards a destination unknown.
"I believe I might have found a way to disable the shielding system," Sersia exclaimed on a exited tone. "It's just that this console shows some disturbances, I'm not sure if it's because of the energy that surrounds this place or something else."
B'Elanna kicked against the grey computer, watching as it blinked out for a second, before red and green lines and diagrams appeared on screen again. "That trick never fails," she said winking at the Itasch officer.
"Whatever." Sersia shrugged and moved her hands across the console, her fingers flexed all over the place to reduce time.
"Damn, Seven even you can't work this fast."
Seven cocked an eyebrow, still distracted by the fact her implants kept malfunctioning at certain intervals. But that didn't worry her though, she was still able to exude a certain control over her body. What did worry her was when a new implant appeared on her left arm, and then one at her neck. "Lt. Torres..."
"Seven? Are you okay?"
"Yes..but I do not want this to..." she gasped her voice barely a whisper. "We need a way to disable the energy emissions."
B'Elanna stared around and started to work at several of the computers. But however try she might, none seemed to work. Angrily she slammed her fist down on the console that was the furthest away from the entrance. A second later she cried out in pain.
"B'Elanna," Seven yelled, watching as the half Klingon hung in the air, two metal tentacles having pierced her chest, impaling her as she continued to struggle.
Seven was at B'Elanna's side within a split second. But she was at a loss of what to do. The tentacles were moving around wildly, their unwilling prisoner struggling as pain wrecked her body at every movement.
"Please hold still," Seven said on a low tone.
B'Elanna coughed, her eyes rolling in the back of her head.
Sersia had looked at what had happened, but she kept working on bringing the planetary shielding down. Her hands flew ever faster across the console, keying in commands, trying to break in. She let out some very unlady-like curses, but didn't care. Her every attempt to shut down the shield was met with resistance and it took her a few more seconds before she finally found the switch she had been looking for.
"The shielding is down."
Seven still tried to pull the tentacles loose, but it was of no use. She had concluded it was some sort of defence mechanism, and wondered briefly if there were more traps scattered around. "Sersia..."
The Itasch female's eyes went wide as she saw another set of tentacles appear from the computer in front of her. Off her own accord the metal wings that were attached to her backside bent and protected her against the attempts of the tentacles to penetrate her skin. Quickly she scrambled backwards until she was out of reach.
Seven slapped her commbadge. "Seven of Nine to Voyager."
There was some cracking at the other side, but they seemed to be too far down for the signal to penetrate their location. The former Borg drone looked at B'Elanna frantically, the brunette had finally succumbed to the pains that had plagued her body and hung lifelessly from the tentacles that had risen towards the ceiling.
"We need those phase gasses out of the way as well," Sersia said. She vaguely recognized the material that held the half Klingon imprisoned. If she didn't know any better, she'd say it was the same substance that had merged with her body.
Seven hesitated, seeing how B'Elanna's blood was dripping on the floor, creating a ever growing puddle. Her insides were screaming at her to help the other woman, but she finally allowed her logic to rule out her emotions. Even though her stomach continued to lurge as she witnessed the holes through which the tentacles protruded, became ever bigger.
"Captain Janeway here...Seven?"
"Captain, I need you to transport us of this planet immediately. Lieutenant Torres has been injured and needs medical treatment."
"I'm sorry, we can't seem to get a lock on to your lifesigns. Those gasses that surround this planet and make it shift phases might have something to do with that. Is there any way you can strenghten your signals?"
"No but I might be able to...arghhhhhhh," Seven's sentence ended on a hoarse cry of pain as another tentacle appeared from the computer she had been standing in front of. When she looked around she saw that the room had essentially changed into a deathtrap. Tears fell from her eyes as she tried to battle the searing pain that engulfed her body.
"I'm...damaged," Seven stated, trying to remove the single metal tentacle that had moved right through the flesh of her left leg. It was trying to lift her off the ground in the same matter as B'Elanna, but Seven hooked her Borg enhanced hand into the console, refusing to give in.
"Seven we can detect three lifesigns on the location you are at, but we're unable to guarantee your safety if we beam you up now," Janeway's voice was bordering on concerned.
"We need to..." Seven gasped for air. Dark spots were everywhere around her, and she just couldn't focuss on her surroundings.
Sersia was looking around the room. Everywhere around her tentacles stretched out as far as possible, keeping her imprisoned in the middle. She bit her cheeks, contemplating on what to do next. Breathing out she felt how she was gliding through the air all of a sudden. The wings on her back expanded, and the softest of breezes that was moving through the room as a part of the cooling system, did the rest.
Arriving at the maintenance chamber her two companions had checked out before, she looked around for something she could disable. She knew that the container holding the colourless substance was what caused the phase gasses to be spread around the planet's atmosphere. Apparantly it was a continuing process.
But if she destroyed the container the planet would not only stop shifting phases...it would also mean her chances to get a pure sample were gone. If she didn't destroy the containers her companions would die.
The metal bar that had been haplessly lying around on the ground moved through the air a moment later. It went straight through the container, and the gasses moved around freely, almost choking Sersia as she quickly moved her spasming hands to cover her mouth in a futile attempt.
She stumbled around the room as her body went completely nuts. Her limbs extended in every possible way, and impossible pains wrecked her body. Walking towards the console Seven of Nine had collapsed at, she hit the commbadge.
"We need...to get out of here," Sersia coughed.
Nothing seemed to happen, and the Itasch wondered if she was doomed to die on the paradise-planet. But as soon as the gasses had scattered completely she felt her body being lifted up, just before darkness claimed her.
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